06/24/2017 11:29PM

Pocono: Ariana G beats the boys in final Beal elimination

Curtis Salonick
Ariana G never had an anxious moment and earned high praise from her connections following her Beal elimination

They saved the best for last on Saturday night at Pocono as Ariana G met the boys for the first time and made easy work of it, defeating her five rivals effortlessly with a methodical 1:53 4/5 performance in the last of three $25,000 eliminations for the $500,000 Earl Beal Jr. Memorial sophomore trot.

"She was coasting," said her driver Yannick Gingras in the winner's circle.

Indeed, once in front through a 27 3/5 opening panel, the daughter of Muscle Hill backed the fractions down significantly, posting fractions of 57 4/5 and 1:26 1/5 for the middle-half before cruising home in 27 3/5 with Gingras not moving a muscle.  Bill's Man showed improvement, racing without cover and nailing the place spot ahead of Moonshiner Hanover to advance to the final.

Trainer Jimmy Takter was jubilant in the winner's circle.

"She's the best filly I have ever developed," said Takter, noting that Moni Maker came to him as an aged horse.

Marvin Katz and Al Libfeld own Ariana G, a 1-20 winning favorite.

Trainer Marcus Melander saw his Long Tom win for the third time in as many starts this year in the first Beal elimination. Also by Muscle Hill, Long Tom was parked three-eighths of a mile before securing the top and rolling away from the field in a 1:52 3/5 mile. Sortie rallied late for second, with Lucky Matter finishing well between horses to reach the final.

"It was a little more than I wanted to do with him early," said Tim Tetrick, who drove Long Tom. "But Marcus had him ready after three weeks off."

Tetrick told the trainer following the race that Long Tom's gait has improved dramatically from his 2- to 3-year-old season.

The other Beal elimination proved a shocker as Gingras rallied 23-1 shot Perfect Spirit over a tiring Devious Man right on the wire of a 1:54 1/5 mile. The Ake Svanstedt trainee had been driven by his trainer in previous starts, but Gingras drove the longshot with some confidence.

"They took his shoes off for his last start and he raced really well," said Gingras, who put the son of Andover Hall in good contention, leaving the gate from post seven and getting to the front in 28 seconds flat.

Dover Dan and driver Corey Callahan quarter-moved to the top and had the edge before the 56 4/5 half, but then Andy Miller and Devious Man made a bold move on the backstretch to clear the lead. It looked like Devious Man's race to win on the final turn, with the battle for second between Dover Dan and Southwind Woody, until Gingras found room to the inside and squeezed through with Perfect Spirit.  Devious Man held second with Dover Dan third and advancing to the July 1 final.

"We were going from zero to 60, and I was just trying to hold him together," said Gingras of the winner owned by SRF Stable.